Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV)
The calendar turns to December and we are given the burden to be a bit more generous. But the challenge today is that we should not be obligated by the calendar.
Our church regularly volunteered at a local soup kitchen. One December, I called the soup kitchen coordinator to schedule a time when our church could serve. I was surprised when the coordinator asked if we would consider not coming in December. She told me that there were more than enough volunteers for December. In fact, they had as many volunteers in December as they had the entire rest of the year. She asked if we would please consider volunteering twice in January. She knew that many of the December volunteers would not return and that finding volunteers in January would be much more difficult.
It got me thinking a bit about how we often strain to do something “good” in the month of December. We do so because that is what we are supposed to do at Christmastime. We think that the calendar somehow obligates us. But it can become just one more thing that can leave us exhausted during the holiday.
We should not only consider what we give, but also consider when we give. With so much giving going on at Christmastime, your gift might be more appreciated at another time of the year. If you are a person who often serves, you might consider December as a time to step back and let others fill the gaps while you are refreshed. Then you can serve with even more vigor after the holiday.
Another example of this is all the baked goodies. I love sweets. But every Christmas season I am overwhelmed by all the cookies and chocolates that are found in our church office. I appreciate all the gifts, but unfortunately a lot of it goes to waste because it is too much all at once.
When I was serving as a vicar (an internship for future pastors), my supervisor sent out Epiphany cards. As a pastor, he was busy during December. So he would send out cards in January. It was unique and it was enjoyable to receive his card in a calmer season. I probably took a bit more time to savor the words because it was the only card I received at that time.
Generosity is not to be a once-a-year tradition. Rather, as believers, it is a lifestyle we live as we seek to follow Jesus.
- What holiday traditions of serving and giving might you move to a different time of the year that is less hectic?
- What is the benefit of giving at different times of the year?
Lord, thank you for blessing me in so many ways that I might be a blessing to others. You have given me time to serve. You have given me money and possessions to share with others. You have given me talents and abilities for me to uniquely benefit your kingdom. Give me the wisdom to use all those things wisely and to be timely with my generosity. In Jesus’ name. Amen!